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By Monique Truong

I blame Laura Ingalls Wilder for my constant craving for homemade pies

I blame Laura Ingalls Wilder for my constant craving for homemade pies.  On the pages of her Little House series of books, I learned that Ma could make pies out of almost anything: green pumpkins (The Long Winter), black birds (Little Town on the Prairie), dried apples (By the Shores of Silver Lake), and even vinegar (Little House in the Big Woods). In fact, the only time when Ma did not bake a pie was when their eponymous little house was on the prairie, where “stewed dried blackberries and little cakes” were the closest things that Pa and the girls got to a proper dessert and that was only at Christmas dinner.

When I was eight and speeding through every book by Wilder that I could find—eschewing Farmer Boy till the very end because it was, eww, about a Boy!—every sentence about pie making and eating was pure magic to me. They still are. While I have put away now, along with other childish things, my calico sunbonnet (I will leave it up to you, dear reader, to decide whether I mean this figuratively or literally), I have kept close to my heart and my open mouth Wilder’s vivid evocation of the Good American Pie.

Like many quintessentially American fare, pies were foods that I read about but that I rarely ate at home when I was growing up.   Read more

By Christine Johnson-Duell

Finding Pomegranates

I have always loved the Persephone/Demeter myth and as an MFA student, I discovered Eavan Boland’s poem, “The Pomegranate.” I loved its wistfulness, its wisdom, and its fierce ambivalence (simultaneous wanting: to protect a daughter from, and propel her into, life), especially because I’d always related to this myth as Persephone. The speaker says “…the best thing about the legend is/I can enter it anywhere.”

In the decade that followed grad school, I came across numerous Persephone/Demeter poems. In that decade, I had a daughter, but I never wanted to write a version of the myth. Other poets, better than I, had already done it; the world didn’t need another. And, unlike Boland’s speaker, I was uncertain where to enter it.

I did (and do) however, have a few opinions.   Read more

By Anne Liu Kellor

How to Write After Giving Birth

You fear that once you have your baby it will be hard to write. You have been spoiled for so long with so many uninterrupted hours. How will you adapt to working in snippets, a half hour here, hour there? You know that this is how other mothers do it, how they manage to hang on to their identities as writers, manage to get anything done. That said, you are prepared to give up writing altogether for a while. You are trying to lower your expectations so that you will not be disappointed. You are trying to be realistic.

Before giving birth, you are gifted with three blessed weeks at Hedgebrook. You know that this is your last chance to make great strides in your work before life with baby takes over. You know that life with baby will take over.   Read more

By Yvette Heyliger

An Open Letter to First Lady Michelle Obama

Dear Farmhouse Table:  I am a Hedgebrook alumnae (Oak 2008) and member of the Dramatists Guild.  I attended a meeting earlier this year with the president, Stephen Schwartz, distinguished council members, and members of the Women’s Initiative to discuss parity issues.  In that meeting I shared that there was a letter that I have been writing for some time now to Michelle Obama about the plight of women playwrights in America.  I decided to make it an “open letter” and share it with “all who have ears to hear.”  Many have found it inspiring, and so I thought I would share it with the Hedgebrook community here at the Farmhouse Table.  Enjoy!

– Yvette Heyliger (yvetteheyliger@aol.com)

An Open Letter to Michelle Obama discusses a precedent set by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, one that paved the way for women journalists, ensuring and protecting their jobs as members of the White House Press Corps.  I thought her methods might inspire the same action by First Lady Michelle Obama as a way to achieve parity for women artists in the American Theatre.   Read more

By Ann Hedreen

Time and Katy

 

This one’s about Time. And Katy.

Katy: you wrote so eloquently about your cancer I thought your words would banish those cells from your body forever. But no. A few cells lurked.  Multiplied. Finally, they left your words and took your body. And I am grieving. Me and a whole lot of other people.

I knew you first as a writer, a fiftyish mom like me who left the teenagers at home while we honed our craft in an MFA program.  Then when I read what you wrote, I knew you as a writer who had faced down death at an age when most of us are debating whether to stop coloring our hair.

A few nights ago I went to a phenomenal reading sponsored by Hedgebrook.      Read more

By Elizabeth Austen

On the Air: Preparing for a Radio Interview

You summoned the courage, devoted the time, wrote the book. You found a publisher. Now it’s time to get the book into the world.

For the past decade or so, I’ve worked part-time at KUOW, one of Seattle’s NPR affiliates. I interview poets and curate a regular poetry feature. I’ve been on the other side of the microphone, too, talking about my own work, and have been grateful I knew what to expect and how to prepare. Even so, being interviewed is a funny balancing act—ideally, it comes across as a relaxed, engaging conversation, but unlike a regular social situation, the interview requires preparation.   Read more

By Hedgebrook Guest

Masterclass

The car turns in at the drive. You can’t help but feel as if you’re home. It’s been a long journey, and I don’t mean your flight or the ferry. You get out of the car full of hope, your bags crammed full of expectations.

That first day’s memories are a blur: the staff, the other writers, the land, the teacher, the cottage—your cottage—unpacking, settling in. Even the memory of that first dinner that you didn’t think you could ever forget has been burned off like fog by the brightness of what came after.   Read more

By Genine Lentine

Poses: Writing as Gesture

In the weekly Sunday Writing Studio I lead at the San Francisco Zen Center, we begin with a round of generative writing modeled on the quick gesture drawings that often begin a life drawing class. Invoking the immediacy of these gesture drawings, I call these quick prompts “Poses.”

I adapted this strategy from my own practice of writing from the model in life-drawing sessions, a process I’d discovered in a drawing group I went to regularly when I first moved to New York in 2000. Sitting there trying to focus on drawing the model, I was very preoccupied with the gothically difficult triple breakup I’d just been through, and in an attempt to deal with this, I decided to write, as if I could sweep my thoughts and clear the way so I could just draw. And so I started writing, using the timed poses and the physical experience of writing on drawing paper with a pencil. I wanted to come in under the habit of deliberation and deferral and respond to what was there in the room with me.  What began as a kind of maintenance actually became a very regular process and a series of poems called Poses.   Read more

By Michelle Dicinoski

The Art of Play

A little over a year ago, I made the long journey from Brisbane, Australia, to Whidbey Island. The days before my arrival at Hedgebrook were days of excitement and uncertainty. What would Hedgebrook really be like? What would the other residents be like? And, most worrying to me, what if I didn’t write furiously the whole time I was there?

In 2008, I saw the writer Helen Garner give a keynote address at a conference on the subject of ‘Creativity and Uncertainty’. The entire speech was fascinating—to hear a famous writer talk about all the not writing involved in writing was so reassuring that you could almost hear the assembled crowd’s sighs of relief—but what I will remember most is Garner’s discussion of the importance of play. She talked about what it was like to play in the yard with her two-year-old grandson. At first, Garner is distracted, and can’t connect with the aimlessness of the play. But if she can embrace that very aimlessness, something wonderful happens:   Read more

By Minal Hajratwala

Nondualism: Writing/Not Writing

Editor’s note: The following post is being republished from Hedgebrook Writes!

 

Regret

Mid-Monday.  I feel bad that I haven’t written more, haven’t written much this weekend.

Luckily, I’m now intimate with the voices in my head. So I suspect this is a lie.  Time to take inventory. Since Friday morning, I’ve written:

• several thousand meandering journal-y words on gender, armor, rootedness, displacement, travel, destabilization & its gifts

• a draft of a film/culture commentary that I may or may not publish

• a long dialogue with a writer friend, more about gender, hair, transitions of various sorts

• a piece of flash fiction that emerged from Genine’s prompts (“poses”)

• and, oh yes, this and my previous blog post

Actually that’s quite a bit.  And this is my regular pace these days; I didn’t do much special for the Hedgebrook weekend.

I am working steadily, yet I realize (again) how constant this feeling is:  not working/writing/doing/being enough.

How good I am at saying to myself, “but that doesn’t count. That’s not real writing.”   Read more

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